Oculus had both a win and a loss in court against ZeniMax today, being forced to pay out a grand total of $500 million to the Maryland-based games firm over a violated non-disclosure agreement, and both sides are looking to drag each other back into court in the near future. For Oculus’ part, it was found that Palmer Luckey violated a non-disclosure agreement that he had signed in the process of receiving help with Oculus Rift’s original development run from John Carmack, who worked for ZeniMax subsidiary id Software at the time. The core of the case, ZeniMax’s assertion that Carmack copied id Code and used ZeniMax’s trade secrets in creating the Oculus Rift, was disproved and thrown out. ZeniMax still plans to seek an injunction against Oculus Rift sales while considering their future legal options. Oculus, meanwhile, plans to appeal today’s verdict.
ZeniMax originally sought some $4 billion in total damages and compensation, alleging that Carmack’s misappropriation of trade secrets meant that a large amount of development work performed by id and ZeniMax staff who defected to Oculus, including Carmack himself, went into the creation of the Oculus Rift. Today’s verdict was rendered by a Texas court. The case has yet to go to the Supreme Court, though that could end up on the menu once both sides have had some time to recoup their strategies and think over how they’re going to proceed.
The DOOM creator and gaming industry legend did not have much to say as today’s verdict was read, a course of action that was chosen, perhaps wisely, by most present; the courtroom collectively exhibited a distinct lack of any real emotional reaction. Previously, ZeniMax had accused Oculus of destroying evidence that Carmack had indeed stolen trade secrets. An application for an injunction and perhaps a future resurgence of the case could be built upon this. Oculus, meanwhile, will have to prove that the non-disclosure agreement in question was actually not technically violated in order for their planned appeal to be successful. The agreement in question essentially stated that none of Carmack’s official work in VR, which became property of ZeniMax during his tenure, would be allowed to leave the company in any way.